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West Virginia Anti-Kavanaugh Protester On Manchin


Joe Manchin is the only Senate Democrat who plans to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court today, this despite what we can imagine to be the objections of his fellow Democratic senators and what we know to be some very vocal objections of protesters who gathered at the Capitol. Kayla Wilson is one of those protesters. She's also a West Virginian and founder of the women's activist group Boss Babes in that state.

Ms. Wilson, thanks so much for being with us.

KAYLA WILSON: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: And what's your immediate reaction to Senator Manchin saying he intends to vote for Judge Kavanaugh?

WILSON: It's devastating. But it's honestly not super surprising.

SIMON: Yeah. Well...


SIMON: ...I mean, it's been indicated. Also, I mean, Donald Trump got 68.5 percent of the presidential vote in West Virginia in 2016. Can the argument be made that Senator Manchin is just reflecting the democratic will expressed by the people of West Virginia?

WILSON: I do think that he is. The polls show that most people supported Kavanaugh here. However, I think he did it entirely politically because he's up for re-election in 30 days and he has under 50 percent of the polls right now. So I think he did it to sway the Republican base.

SIMON: Yeah. Well - but when you accuse a politician of being a politician, that's not much of a surprise, is it? I mean, he's running for re-election.

WILSON: Yeah, of course. And I did do that to him yesterday - on Thursday.

SIMON: Tell us about those meetings because you were - you met with him, I guess, for two hours on Thursday. Right?

WILSON: Yeah, we did. So we had a group of women who sat in his office on Monday, and they were actually arrested. He had about nine women arrested. They sat there for 10 hours listening to him. They had a conference call with him on Monday that didn't really go well. So on Thursday, we had a group of about 50 go up to D.C. And we met with him on two separate occasions. The first one, we had probably about 20 women there and - 20 women, men and teenagers. And we told stories of sexual assault and asked him how he planned to vote. And he (inaudible) way. He was very engaged in the conversation. He had to step out of the room but did invite us back for a second meeting.

SIMON: Well, that - you feel like you were heard and received with respect?

WILSON: Absolutely, yeah. He was extremely engaged. He asked a lot of questions. I do believe that Joe Manchin cares for West Virginia. I just don't think that's reflected in this decision.

SIMON: Does your fight continue if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed? Or how does it continue?

WILSON: Our fight does continue. So as far as the Senate goes, we - he kind of knew that he had us. He kind of had us because the other option's Patrick Morrisey, who's done terrible things for West Virginia. He's a big proponent of the opioid crisis, and so he kind of knows that...

SIMON: Surely, he doesn't believe in opioid addiction.

WILSON: He doesn't. But he was a lobbyist for a big pharmaceutical in West Virginia. He's our current attorney general, and he's just terrible. He's got Trump's endorsement, and he's just a bad guy. And I think he knows that Democrats, at the heart, still can't vote...

SIMON: This is all your opinion, let me underscore. Right?

WILSON: This is my opinion. No. Of course...

SIMON: Yeah.

WILSON: ...This is my opinion, yes. Of course. So yeah, I think he believes that he's still going to have the Democrat vote and that he wants to get the Republicans as well.

SIMON: Well, it...

WILSON: But our fight does continue, yeah. So we're working on - we're working statewide to change things. We've got a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban abortion, and Joe Manchin said we all have to get out and vote against that, which we are doing.

SIMON: Well, it sounds as if you have accepted Senator Manchin's vote for what it is and still support him on a great many issues. And I've got to tell you, this sounds very civilized and democratic to me.

WILSON: I'm trying to play the long game. I reluctantly support him because I think the - I think Morrisey's a worse choice. Manchin does still support us on the ACA and tax reform. So sadly, we still have to go with him and hopefully get somebody else in 2024.

SIMON: Kayla Wilson of West Virginia, thanks so much.

WILSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.